Image of a pitcher of Kombucha
Barrel Tips, Kombucha

Why You Should Use an Oak Barrel to Brew Your Kombucha

It’s the fermented tea drink with an ancient history (it dates back to 220 BCE) and a high nutritional value, with disease-fighting antioxidants and probiotics that boost your gut health. 
And it tastes great — especially on a hot summer day.

Kombucha has been making waves in the beverage world for a few years now. And if you’re thinking of brewing your own batch, you’ll find plenty of recipes online to help you get started (cough cough, here’s ours). 

Many recipes use a glass jar for the fermentation process and that’s fine. But if you’re looking for rich flavours that have developed naturally, an oak kombucha barrel will give you better results. 
Here are a few reasons why you should consider an oak kombucha barrel:

  • Oxygen is key to the fermentation process. Unvarnished wood naturally allows the contents to breathe, even beneath the SCOBY, where the microbial ingredients are undergoing an age-old process that has given us bread, wine and beer (all good things, right?). 
  • Minimize the light. A barrel provides the best conditions for fermentation, especially if you keep it in a dark spot in the room. You won’t have to worry about sun exposure or light speeding up the process. Just fill your barrel and let the bacteria-yeast combination do its job as nature intended.
  • Wood is a more organic material. It’s porous too, so the probiotics will easily work their way into the wood. They’ll thrive in that natural environment, and they’ll potentially keep working their magic for many batches.
  • Add some oak character. Every one of our kombucha barrels boasts a medium char on the inside. This imparts complex oaky flavour and helps colour your batch. The charcoal also acts as a natural filter that can help lower the alcohol and acetic acid levels. 
  • Easy access to your drink. Yeast produces sediment, which settles at the bottom and piles up over time. And if you’ve set up a continuous brew process, the bottom is where your aged batch will sit (hence your barrel’s vertical orientation). That’s also why the spigot is placed a little higher up from the bottom: the placement helps prevent clogs (yeast) and gives you easy access to the best part of your kombucha (the aged batch at the bottom). It also makes it easier to fit a glass underneath (we really do try to think of everything).
  • Your kombucha recipe will evolve on its own. The microorganisms will continue to interact with the wood, which means no two barrel-brewed batches will taste exactly the same. Whether it’s a milder oak character (the oak flavour gets less pronounced with time), or a stronger yeast taste, each batch affects the next.

With proper care, your oak kombucha barrel can last many, many years. Just be sure to consider your batch size before buying an Urban Barrel Kombucha Barrel. Don’t use a 20 L barrel to make a 10 L batch — if you don’t fill your barrel to the top, you risk having mould grow above the liquid. 

Nature will do whatever it wants to do but remember: you control the conditions. If you handle everything properly (and cleanly) and maintain the right ingredient ratios, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to set yourself up with your very own — and potentially endless — supply of fresh kombucha. 

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